Extremely Large f/1 Aperture . Beneficial to Night Shooting
Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/1


Photo shooting at night is a big challenge, as it is difficult to estimate the situation of light source. Therefore, before any shooting, one may have many considerations and preparations. A flash light has to be prepared for adjusting the degree of light and a tripod has to be prepared for reducing vibration. However, when Noctilux-M 50mm f/1 with extremely large aperture was released in 1976, it benefits night shooting, allowing the absence of flash in indoor shooting. One piece of candlelight is already adequate as the largest aperture f/1 can capture enough light.

In the time period, Leitz introduced a kind of special glass material “900430”, which has high light penetration. Walter Mandler made use of it and successfully produced a significant spherical lens Noctilux-M 50mm f/1, whose maximum aperture is larger than Noctilux 50mm f/1.2. It adopts the optical design of 7 elements in 6 groups, which is similar to the excellent optical design of Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4.

The appearance of f/1 maximum aperture indicates that the light is able to pass through the glass without any loss. All light is completely preserved even after retraction. The light received by the lens is the same as what human eyes see. Thus, with extremely large aperture, new excellent glass and brilliant optical design as Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4, it is expected that the performance of Noctilux-M 50mm f/1 is definitely outstanding.

The heavy lens includes four versions in black chrome and all of them were produced in Canada. They consist of knurled focusing ring and red or amber single coating. The lens is compatible with all M series cameras, from the earliest M3 to Leica digital camera such as M9-P, M240. The four versions can be differentiated by the types of filter and hood. The first version produced from 1976 to 1978 has E58 filter and its hood is screwed to the rim. As it is the earliest version that had the shortest production period of about two years and there are not much perfect pieces left nowadays, the first version is comparatively the most precious one among the four versions.

The second version produced from 1978 to 1982 has E60 filter and its hood is also screwed to the rim. The third version produced from 1982 to 1993 has E60 filter and a clip-on hood. Last, the fourth version produced from 1993 to 2008 has E60 filter and a built-in hood.

The performance of Noctilux-M 50mm f/1 kept improving throughout versions. When the aperture of the first version fully opens, vignetting exists and the image sharpness is lower than the later versions. However, the bokeh is creamy like oil painting, which constructs a peaceful atmosphere. The performance of the second version is similar to the first version and the image sharpness had not been enhanced. The third version has better performance with enhanced sharpness. Images are clearer than the previous versions. The fourth version produces the sharpest images. The image inside the depth of field stands out, creating an obvious contrast to the image outside the depth of field. The bokeh is ordered instead of creamy, and sometimes in special shapes.

Overall, the image of Noctilux-M 50mm f/1 is detailed with clear corners. Under the maximum aperture, the depth of field is very shallow that only image inside 10 cm is clear. If the image is correctly focused, the image inside the depth of field can be very sharp, standing out and of high contrast without any spherical aberration. Photo shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 can reach the best contrast rate, and at f/8 performs the best.

Photo shooting in dark environment is no longer a big challenge by using Noctilux-M 50mm f/1. The maximum aperture itself is able to capture adequate light to produce outstanding images.


When using small aperture, the image is natural and detailed. The focused old woman is sharp and it creates a clear contrast to the old man not in focus.


When under large aperture, the bokeh outside the depth of field is creamy and smooth, creating a peaceful atmosphere.


Obviously, the image captured by the fourth version is very sharp. The outline of people is clearer and more detailed.


When the aperture is fully opened, the image inside the depth of field is sharper and more standing out than the first version, like jumping out of the background. Moreover, the bokeh outside the depth of field is not that smooth as in the first version, but the bokeh has special and diversified shapes.


Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/1
  1st version 2nd version 3rd version 4th version
Production Period 1976-1978 1978-1982 1982-1993 1993-2008
Focal Length 50mm
Maximum Aperture F/1
Colour Black chrome
Filter E58 E60
Hood Screw Clip-on Build-in
Special Feature Special glass material with high light penetration, without any loss of light, beneficial to night shooting
Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/1
  • 2014.06.20
Category Tags: LEICA
Leica Noctilux-M 50mm F/1.2 50/1.2 Double ASPH AA 2014.09.12
Condition Cosmetic / Optical / Operation A- / A / 1
HKD 288,000
Leica Summilux-M 50mm F/1.4 50/1.4 Ver.2 Black 2015.01.02
Condition Cosmetic / Optical / Operation A / A / 1
HKD 19,800